In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring that customer support agents are supported is a priority at the top of many company’s lists. However, remote workforces and changes in consumer behavior have created new challenges for brands. Here are the top four things all companies should be doing to empower their support agents and stay on top of the ever-evolving disruptions we’re experiencing.
1. Remove Barriers to Information
We know that an effective digital customer experience drives revenue, retention, and loyalty. Having the right technology and tools at an agent’s disposal is paramount to drive real outcomes. Brands need to be taking care of the human needs of their agents in order to drive that effective experience.
One challenging situation that agents face is sorting through the available data in order to find the right answer to help a customer with a query. The “right” technology and tools break down the barriers between employee and information. An organized and intelligent knowledge base is key to saving time for agents and customers.
Frost & Sullivan found that companies empowering employees to better engage with customers through effective workforce engagement tools are 96 percent more likely to be able to achieve overall profitability and 82 percent more likely to provide a better quality of customer experience.
2. Make It Easy to Connect with SMEs
It’s important for agents to connect through one-on-one interactions with other subject matter experts in their organizations. Things like opening up chat forums and creating casual meetings where agents and reps can get together and have “water cooler talk” and share knowledge are especially empowering.
It might not seem particularly innovative to simply activate a chat or meeting forum, but when you’re supporting employees during a pandemic, especially when a workforce is so scattered, it makes a world of difference to be able to create ad hoc human connections.
3. Create Human Connection
The job of a support agent is a difficult one that requires empathy, patience, and finely tuned listening skills. A lot of organizations take for granted that these “soft skills” can be a company’s greatest asset—especially if that company is one that relies heavily on their support team.
Gartner found that in recent months, clients and vendors saw an increase of traffic into the customer service and support functions mushrooming from 4 percent to over 1,000 percent. One of the questions we can ask our employees is simply: “What can we do to make your jobs easier?” It’s this empathy directed back at our most empathetic employees that will drive success for our businesses.
4. Support Your Agents with Technology That Meets Their Needs
What does all of this mean when we get down in the weeds with data and technology? The adequacy of data as well as the design and usability of an agent’s service desktop are two of the most important aspects of the experience today. Gartner tells us that many successful customer service organizations tackle this challenge by deploying or upgrading customer-facing and agent-facing knowledge bases. Improved delivery of contextual knowledge to an employee or customer reduces a provider’s time to answer by 20 percent to 80 percent, raising competency and satisfaction.
In order to ease the stress of a customer rep’s workload, customers need to be enabled to self-serve, and that starts with having the information in the knowledgebase connected, organized and in an intuitive UX. Great self-service with organized data can also enable ML-powered chat solutions and a search platform that delivers relevant results.
When the challenge is too great for self-service deflection, agents need to be empowered using the same discipline behind organized and connected data, alongside a personalized UI. Connecting all of these experiences not only makes logical sense, but it also creates the most effective total experience for every touchpoint. Empathy should closely align to technological platform choices – but you have to understand the needs of your employees first. A great customer experience will quickly follow when your internal team is thoroughly empowered.
The author, Jenny Gomez, is the Director of Product Marketing for Lucidworks, which specializes in the Connected Experience Cloud, making it easier for companies to connect their data and insights across customer touchpoints.